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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Interview with The Maes

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The Maes play Bello Winter Music Festival this July

Bello Winter Music | Friday 12 – Sunday 14 July  | $60-240

Multi-award-winning Melbourne contemporary folk outfit The Maes (formerly The Mae Trio) is the brainchild of sisters Maggie and Elsie Rigby. Born into the arms of the folk-music community in Australia, both sisters were side of stage at their first folk festival when they were four weeks old and have been absorbing and exploring folk music since that time.

Folk music really is in your blood. Did you ever go through a rebel phase where you loved heavy metal and wore black and dyed your hair to match or has it always been folk for you?

It’s funny, we often get asked that. I wish I could say that we it did for the sake of street cred but we have always loved folk music. I think for me, I didn’t fit in that well at school and in everyday normal teenaged life and so folk music (and particularly folk festivals) were these wonderful oases where it was okay to be a bit weird, to wear clothes that come from op shops, to not wear makeup, and to be interested in politics or social justice. I guess my love of folk music started with a feeling of acceptance among a group of fellow misfits. 

Other than your parents, who have been your biggest musical influences?

The first time I remember seeing a band and having this deep feeling of ‘I want to be like that’ was when I saw a Canadian band called The Waillin Jennys at the Port Fairy Folk Festival; I remember being absolutely kicked in the guts by their vocal harmonies. We are also heavily influenced by contemporary American roots music, the music of Crooked Still and Gillian Welch among others. But our first and foremost musical influence is not our parents, exactly, but the community of Australian folk musicians whom we grew up with and around. The gigs we listened to as young children, asleep on someone’s knee. The songs we were taught by friends and sang around campfires. Those are easily our most formative musical moments. 

What else does 2019 have in store for you guys? Is there any other big news you’d like to share with your people here in Australia and northern NSW?

We have just announced our first festival in Canada for early August so we’re going back to Canada; and also a show in London in September, so I guess it’s safe to reveal that we’ll be touring the UK as well. I’d give you more secret spoilers but I actually don’t know. This year is such a big one for us with the new record coming out and our biggest-ever Australian tour followed by overseas dates that we’re very much in taking-one-thing-at-a-time mode at the moment. I want to enjoy as much of this year as possible while it’s happening. 

The Maes play Bello Winter Music Fri 12, Sat 13, and Sunday 14 July. Tickets and info at bellowintermusic.com.

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